Identifying Parental Stress and The Circle of Support

By January 13, 2021 Uncategorized

It is undeniable North Dakota adoption agencies have made so many progressions when preparing all prospective adoptive parents.  Ten years ago, there was very little training for parents to understand the unique task of parenting adopted youth.  It’s common for newly adoptive parents to say things like, “we want to adopt because it’s the right thing to do” or “adoption is our calling.”  Although this perspective is well-intentioned, adoptive parents need understand love just isn’t enough, especially when adopting special need children or adolescents.

According to Jayne Schooler, new adoptive parents and well-versed adoptive parents need to recognize and understand their expectations for their adoptive kiddos.  Here are 10 common unrealistic parental expectations parents hold that need to be acknowledged at adoptive placement and addressed on-going after adoption finalization.

  1. Your ability to love this child is or should be enough.
  2. You will feel the love from this child easily and immediately
  3. Your child will or should have become a part of your family and learned how to function within your rules, goals, and ambitions.
  4. Your child’s needs will be just like those of non-adoptive children in the family.
  5. Your child will fit in well with extended family; the family will welcome or are welcoming them into the family.
  6. Your family and friends will respect your role as a parent and support you through the journey of raising an adoptive child.
  7. Your child sees or will see you as family and forget their birth family and the past.
  8. You can do for this child what was not done for you.
  9. You will not do or are not doing for this child what was done to you.
  10. You will never feel any regrets or resentment about adopting your child from a traumatic past.

Do you find yourself identifying very strongly with one or more of these expectations?  As much as any parent would hold the desire to feel very strongly about all of these statements and also be validated well after finalization, the reality is these expectations are unrealistic and may set the family up for failure.

The repercussions of holding unrealistic expectations can put parents at risk of stress or depression.  It’s essential to continue to check-in with yourself and/or your significant other regularly.  Signs of stress may include headaches, stomach problems, procrastination, overly critical, isolation, irritability, forgetfulness, and anxious thoughts.  If you have concerns of being stressed and depressed, don’t be afraid to reach out to a mental health professional.

One of the most essential things for adoptive parents is having a strong support system.  Heather Bench, an adoptive mom, created the Circle of Support.  This circle includes: The Rock: A person(s) who will remain in your life during the difficult times and continue to love you unconditionally, The Wise:  A person(s) who will always tell the truth even when it is not what you want to hear, The Learner:  A person(s) who will learn alongside you, The Helping Hand: A person(s) who understands and is aware when you may need a break and steps in to assist, and The Advocate: A person(s) who will always stand up for you and continue to support you.  If you feel burnout, unsupported, or lack supports, please contact your local Post Adopt Coordinator for support and assistance.  We’re here for you!

This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Brittney Engelhard, LBSW


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